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The male fern has elegant but fairly robust foliage and is able to withstand a sunnier site and drier soil than most hardy ferns, making it more suited to the rough and tumble of border life. Use between shrubs or tall flowers in borders for summer-long foliage interest, or in woodland or wild gardens in clumps under trees in mild locations the foliage may remain standing all winter, but elsewhere it dies down. However it is at its happiest in a cool shady sheltered humus-rich situation in the company of other hardy ferns and herbaceous flowers. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Plant type: Hardy perennial
Foliage colour: Mid-green
Feature: Dramatic foliage
Sun exposure: Partial shade, Shade
Soil: Well-drained/light, Acidic, Chalky/alkaline, Moist
Skill level: Beginner
Time to divide plants: September to May
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